George Benjamin’s critically acclaimed opera Lessons in Love and Violence receives its US premiere in concert at the Tanglewood Music Festival on 8 August. George Benjamin himself conducts a concert performance in the Seiji Ozawa Hall, with a cast drawn from the Tanglewood Music Centre Vocal Fellows, as part of the 2022 Festival of Contemporary Music.

Martin Crimp’s text for the 90-minute work is a potent brew of politics, sexuality, and human frailty. Across two unbroken parts the opera tells the story of Edward II’s relationship with his advisor Gaveston, and the deadly machinations of Edward’s wife Isabel and military advisor Mortimer. Benjamin’s score was described in the Financial Times as “brilliantly clear and full of half-suggested meanings”.

Since its premiere at the Royal Opera House in 2018, Katie Mitchell’s production has been performed by the Dutch National Opera, the Hamburg Staatsoper, the Opéra National de Lyon, and the Liceu Opera Barcelona. Planned performances at the Lyric Opera of Chicago and the Teatro Real Madrid were postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.  

In May 2023 a new production by Evgeny Titov will open at the Opernhaus Zürich, conducted by Ilan Volkov. Designs, costumes, and lighting will be from Rufus Didwiszys, Falk Bauer, and Martin Gebhardt respectively. The King will be sung by baritone Lauri Vasar, Isabel by soprano Jeanine de Bique, Mortimer by tenor Mark Milhofer, and the Boy/Young King by Sunnyboy Dlada.